Saturday, 28 April 2012

American Pie

Dude that chick's a MILF! Dude! MILF! MILF!

It’s the summer of 1999, I’m 13 and somehow myself and about eight friends get into our local two screen cinema one afternoon to see American Pie. 95 minutes and a lot of thrown popcorn later and we leave having seen the funniest film we think we’ll ever see. Now it’s 2012, I’m 26, I have a beard and I’ve gone back to watch the film that my 13 year old self fell in love with before watching the forth instalment of the franchise next month.

Towards the end of the senior year at High School four friends; jock Oz (Chris Klein), awkward geek Jim (Jason Biggs), quirky Paul Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) and regular guy Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) are struggling to lose their virginity before they each embark for college. Having seen classmates like loud mouth Stifler (Seann William Scott) have success on this front and after one party believing that even the dorkiest guy in the class Chuck ‘Shermanator’ Sherman (Chris Owen) has lost his virginity, the four friends make a pact that they will help each other to get laid by Prom Night.

When I first watched this in 1999 the idea of hearing teenagers talk about and engage in sex during a movie was still novel and outrageous to me. Some of the jokes and more graphic or gross scenes were hilarious and like nothing I’d ever seen before. Now, 13 years later after the likes of The Hangover which have pushed the crude and discussing acts even further, the film feels a bit tame. It’s still pretty gross to see Stifler drink from that cup or for Jim to enjoy that pie but sensitivities and audiences have changed a lot in the last decade or so. Much of the humour I liked 13 years ago now feels immature and I suppose this is because it isn’t fresh and also because I’ve grown up. The humour in The Hangover didn’t appeal to me either and the trailer for Project X put me off completely. I wonder how funny someone born in 1999 would find this film now. I expect they would find it funnier that I. One character who still remains funny to me is Jim’s Dad (Eugene Levy). His interactions with his son about sex are cringe worthy and embarrassing even today. He stole the film and the entire franchise.

One thing that struck me this time round was how poor some of the acting was. Tara Reid is dreadful and Chris Klein even worse. Shannon Elizabeth’s accent is ridiculous and the country she is supposed to be from didn’t even exist in 1999! Another thing I noticed this time was how sweaty the whole cast looked. I’d never noticed it before but it looked like each actor had gone for a run immediately before reading their lines. I didn’t particularly like the sentimentality towards the end and everything ended far too neatly but at least it wasn’t a nasty or mean movie. I also really liked the film’s soundtrack both in 1999 and now.

Despite all its flaws I still have great affinity for this film. It reminded me of being in my teens, wearing the same overly baggy clothes and having the same overly gelled hair. The film has stayed with me all these years and in a way I wish I hadn’t revisited it. It’s like that video game that you loved as a kid and you see in a shop for £2. You take it home, dig out and dust down your old console and then realise five minutes in that times have changed. Sure, it was great when you were a kid but you’re not anymore. It’s best to put it back in the box and remember the good times you had as a kid.


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